No one who has the misfortune to work in Downtown Beirut, or has any reason to pass through it, could fail to notice that Parliament has once again decided to meet, with the closure of the capital’s center rendering everyone’s journey or day even more difficult than usual.
With the closures exacerbating an already dire traffic situation, for many commuters it will be easier to forego a day of work. Businesses, already suffering after years of stagnation, are also affected, with cafes and restaurants emptier on Parliament days than ever before.
The pretext for shutting down all roads around the Parliament is that the lives of the MPs are allegedly in danger and that their security must be protected at all costs. But, realistically speaking, the lives of all Lebanese citizens are in danger, be it from car bombs, cross-border shelling, random sniper fire, road traffic accidents or inadequate health care. Should the lives of these 128 MPs be valued so highly above everyone else? Or are there no alternatives to such disruptive measures?
Wouldn’t it be easier for them to meet after midnight or on holidays? Or perhaps they should move Parliament out of Beirut entirely, somewhere it is less likely to interrupt so many people’s lives.
It is the responsibility, the raison d’etre, of a government to make life as good as it can be for citizens, to regulate society in such a way as to make life comfortable, while also offering at least a certain degree of security. The only steps that Parliament seems to be taking make a mockery of this theory and reveal it to have the lowest degree of respect for the population at large.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 15, 2014, on page 7.